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The 12th International CitroŽn Car Clubs Meeting, Amherst Mass. USA

a personal account by
Tony Stokoe

I have just returned from a week in the ‘States, flying into New York and travelling up to Amherst by rental car. My partner and I decided against shipping a car over for the event, but luckily many did ship their CitroŽns from Europe so there was no shortage of things to see. I believe 66 cars were shipped into New York. The sight of all these classic CitroŽns being unloaded at the docks must have been quite something. I don't know how many cars attended in total but it was certainly well into the 100s.

Interestingly, and perhaps a reflection of the fact that CitroŽns have not been sold in the ‘States since 1972, most of the cars were older models, quite a different mix from the usual line up at a CCC event in the UK. Lots of splendid Tractions, their numbers swelled by what we dubbed ‘the Tracbar nutters’. These, er, enthusiastic characters drive their Tractions incredible distances all over the globe. For this meeting they had their cars shipped to the west coast and drove across from Los Angeles, covering over 4,000 miles to get to Amherst. Whew! I met CCC member, Nick Price at the ICCCR check in and he told me he joined them in a drive up 5th Avenue in New York en route to the event. The scene, all those TAs, roof racks piled high with tyres and luggage, Nick’s immaculate English DS23 in their midst, must have stopped a few yellow cabs!

Above - Astťrix and Obelisk arrive in style
Below - Some of the "Tracbar nutters"

Brian and I arrived at the meeting mid Friday afternoon, parking our Mercury Sable (finished an appropriate Sable D’or metallic and carefully re-badged at the front with chevrons) amongst the Tractions and Ds gathering on the site at the University of Massachusetts campus. We soon met up with fellow SeMantics members (SeMantisites?) Andrew Brodie and Janet Davis and Simon and Jane Scotland. Having registered and got our goodie bags we headed over to our accommodation in the student hall of residence. Big sense of humour failure. Dubbed ‘the prison’ by those inmates who had already checked in, the description of ‘basic’ as the advance literature had advised was something of an understatement!! Very bleak rooms with simple metal beds, desks parked between them, lino on the floors and not even a wash basin other than at the end of the corridor, all in 80 degree heat with no a/c. This was not conducive to happy holidays! Still, we reasoned it was only for two nights; we would be spending all our time out looking at those lovely cars and meeting folk…

On returning to the main area I bumped into Shaun Lilley, who told me his 2CV, shipped over for the meeting, was being held by customs officials at the Port of New York. The official line is that a classic car must be over 25 years old and Shaun’s immaculate 2CV is not, so they didn’t know how to classify such a car. Not very helpful. However, what was helpful was the news that he was booked into a very nice hotel bang in the middle of the campus. A quick enquiry at the hotel reception – yes that had rooms but only smoking ones – and we and the Scotlands deserted ‘the prison’ for nice air conditioned rooms that certainly weren’t smoking when I was in them.

© 2002 Tony Stokoe/Brian Scott Quinn/Julian Marsh/CitroŽnŽt